• Monday, Sep 23, 2019
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Experts: Environmental fiscal reforms can raise revenue, protect environment

  • Published at 10:54 pm September 20th, 2018
2nd Annual Dissemination Event on Green Growth
Speakers at the 2nd Annual Dissemination Event on Green Growth Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

EFR instruments available to Bangladesh include taxes on the extraction of natural resources, as well as changes to the pricing of publicly provided environment related goods and services

The implementation of environmental fiscal reforms (EFR) can help raise revenue and also protect the environment, economists and environmental experts suggested on Thursday.

EFR instruments available to Bangladesh include taxes on the extraction of natural resources, as well as changes to the pricing of publicly provided environment related goods and services, they added.

The comments were made at the 2nd Annual Dissemination Event on Green Growth, organized by Adam Smith International in partnership with the Policy Research Institute (PRI), Economic Dialogue on Green Growth (EDGG), International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). The program was held at the Eden ballroom of the Amari Hotel in Gulshan, Dhaka.

PRI Chairman Dr Zaidi Sattar presided over the conference, and Planning Commission Senior Secretary Dr Shamsul Alam was chief guest. 

After opening remarks by DFID Senior Economic Advisor Peter D’Souza, PRI Vice-Chairman Dr Sadiq Ahmed delivered the keynote presentation titled “The case for Environmental Fiscal Reforms in Bangladesh.”

 

Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (lnM) Executive Director, Mustafa Kamal Mujeri,  Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) Secretary, Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury, Dhaka Tribune Planning Editor Abu Sayeed Asiful Islam, and International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) Director Dr Saleemul Huq, also spoke on the occasion.

In his presentation, Sadiq Ahmed said: “EFR refers to a range of taxation and pricing measures that raise fiscal revenue for priority programs while furthering environmental goals.”

“The incidence of air and water pollution in Bangladesh is amongst the worst in the world. Environmental taxes and subsidies aimed at reducing air and water pollution can be very helpful for improving the environment,” he added.

He further said: “Bangladesh has a track record of heavily subsidizing fuel oil with adverse fiscal and environmental consequences. Proper pricing of energy and publicly provided services that are intimately related to environmental protection can ensure the efficient use of these resources and also reduce pollution.” 

EFR reforms suggested by the PRI vice-chairman include the implementation of taxes and fiscal policy instruments on the extraction of natural resources such as gas, fish, and timber.

He also said pricing policy for municipal water supply and sanitation services need to be reviewed as a part of EFR. “Poor pricing policies constrain the finances of public water supply entities and sanitation services.”

Addressing the event, PRI Chairman Dr Zaidi Sattar said: “It is a fact that Bangladesh has taken strong command and control measures – standards, laws, rules - to curb environmental degradation.”

“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030 and Delta Plan 2100 contain strategies for environmental stabilization and the mitigation of climate change,” he added.

 Abu Sayeed Asiful Islam said: “Tough regulatory signalling is a good thing, and incentivisation is even better. But raising public awareness can be a game-changer, and the press can play a crucial role in mainstreaming green growth.”

Planning Commission Secretary Dr Shamsul Alam said EFR measures need to be implemented carefully, and proper research needs to be conducted before setting taxes on natural resources, especially on fish such as ilish.

“The government will hold discussions with all stakeholders before implementing EFR,” he added.